TODAY -

Almighty roads of Tamenglong

PR Ngaomei *

Almighty roads of Tamenglong as seen on January 7 2016
Almighty roads of Tamenglong as seen on January 7 2016 :: Pix - Nongpok SLK



I could not help overhearing a conversation between fellow passengers the other day in a taxi which was heading for Imphal from Tamenglong district headquarters. As the taxi cruised along jerkily on the rugged road, it bumped upon a large pothole on the unmetaled road all of a sudden jostling everyone rudely.

Obviously, the driver had not seen the pothole as visibility was rendered impossible by a thick blanket of suffocating dust blew up by a preceding vehicle as it crawled lethargically before us on the pathetic road. It is not that it is untypical of us to experience bumpy rides on our roads, we usually bounced along heavily potholed dirt roads in our area, but the one I am referring to was really a big one.

The mighty bump made the seats kicked our butt painfully and send our heads flying up and hit hard at the roof of the taxi. One fellow who was fiddling with his smartphone till then yelled out sarcastically, "How much I'll miss our lovely roads once we reached Imphal."

"How can you miss all these terrible roads in the district?" chimed in one lively passenger -- a meitei trader who has been doing business in Tamenglong headquarters for more than 20 years, while holding onto the edge of the seat in front of him firmly to avoid being jolted again in case of another bump which are usually frequent in our roads, evidently trying to carry the conversation along just for the sake of having a conversation instead of sulking at the uncomfortable ride.

"Once we are in Imphal, bumps will be few and far between to wake us from our reverie. Drivers will be less alert, they will start driving like they are rehearsing for Formula One as if there is no tomorrow." replied the former jestingly with a nonchalant shrug.

"Atleast, look how the condition of our roads check rash driving. Accidents are rare though the drivers had to drive really hard. Why, look at the arms and body of our driver, surely, our roads also contribute in keeping his muscles stronger. Besides, some suave and costly cars and colossal buildings we see in our district are also a contribution made by our roads. While our roads received surface-paint, the coffers of many contractor and leaders are getting pile up with our road-money. Our roads are really a great contributor; it leaves nothing for itself except strayed pebbles and heap of dust. Such a great unselfish act of sacrifice! Surely, we can learn a lot about giving from our roads."

All his audience roared out with a laughter. Understanding and approving the way he presented unpleasant fact in such a charming way, though we hate anything in the way of ill-natured gossip ourselves, he did it for us in such a palatable manner that we felt grateful and encouraged him further with cheerful applause.

Feeling encouraged, he went on with his sarcastic babbling and declared, "Even the claims and guarantee of motor industries are just nothing in the face of our roads. Many a sturdy vehicles did not stand a chance while wrestling under the grip of our almighty roads. They may gulp down tons of fuel as if it is some kind of cheap drinks and their engine may burn hot with anger but our roads always beat them within a short span of time."

"It is indeed very pathetic." remarked someone looking like a learned jurist. "Not only our roads, even our society and the whole system of governance has been reduced to a mere joke. Our leaders, particularly, our representatives who acted like a philanthropist but live like a pharisees, indulged and played upon our peoples' weaknesses for instant gratification, leaving our society to rot away."

"Forget about our representatives even in my village, our MLA promised us a playground nineteen months ago, he told us to believe that it has already been done, but you won't find a playground here." chimed in a woman who belongs to the village we were passing through at that moment. "We grew up accustomed to all kind of negligence, mainly, our pitiable roads which are full of fuming dust, slithery mud, neck-breaking bumps and a ride which feel like a bundled – inside – a – drum – and – rolled - along, that nobody really bother to care anymore. Why should we care when we are deliberately deceived and neglected."

"Rules or standard qualities of a road cease to apply in this part of our State. It has been cleverly manipulated to a mere means of conveying a bulk of government fund or in another word—public fund, into the pockets of a few cunning contractors who are usually backed by our representatives. All the roads in the district are just a mockery of what roads are meant to be." observed the meitei trader with a show of sympathy.

"At the same time, nothing could be stranger than our logic behind anointing a corrupted person who conspicuously bought us during election with his or her ill gotten money hoarded through corruption. Excepting a few, most of rich people who have the kind of money to lavishly flaunt and buy thousands of voters are bound to be corrupted in some manner. So you see, we elected someone who is already corrupted to hold the rein. Nothing, except for a superficial development, will prosper under such hands."

The taxi conversation that day had mostly lingered on the poor condition of roads and developmental works in our district.

Now, back at home in my village after staying two days in Imphal, I could see bulldozers and excavators busy doing some kind of road-maintenance work, purportedly under PMGSY and MLA Local Area Development Fund as I heard. And somehow, I recalled the conversation and wondered whether our roads are receiving another lipstick-paint.


* PR Ngaomei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on January 11 , 2016.


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